Studying is tough. There’s a lot of pressure to do well and a lot you’ll have to learn.
It’s very common for people to feel overwhelmed or “stuck” from time to time. And though it may feel like there’s no way out, there are actually ways to combat these feelings.
In this blog, we’ll be exploring different strategies for dealing with overthinking while studying, as well as how you can make the most of your studying sessions. So, read on if you want to know more about how to get rid of overthinking while studying!
What is Overthinking?
It might be something that doesn’t have a direct correlation to studying. People of all different occupations and backgrounds find it difficult to study, as we each possess different cognitive skills and abilities.
However, there are some similarities and similarities between the two. When someone’s thinking too much, they may need a break.
However, they’ll often feel guilty if they spend too much time studying, as they’ll know that they should be studying, but they can’t bring themselves to.
In some instances, it can become like an addiction. There are a number of different ways that people can feel anxious when studying, but we’ll be talking about those a little later. What we want to know is how people cope with it. You can be of any age, gender, or even profession.
How to get over unwanted thoughts
The first strategy we’ll explore in this blog post is dealing with unwanted thoughts. When we think about thoughts, we often associate the word “unwanted” with something negative.
For instance, if we had thoughts of killing someone, then it would be considered unwanted. However, we can’t think negatively of thoughts; we have them simply because they exist.
Once you start to recognize this, you can start to understand that it’s completely normal to have thoughts during the day.
What’s more, you don’t have to feel bad about thinking about them. When it comes to studying, it’s important to note that the majority of your thoughts during the day aren’t particularly related to your studies.
We’ve all heard that if you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, your body will produce hormones that will actually make you feel happier and more upbeat. The key is to replace negative thoughts with positive ones:
Choose a mentor: Feedback from a trusted teacher or mentor is highly effective. This will help you to better absorb the new material and keep you motivated.
Recognize setbacks: Discomfort is good. It helps you realize that you need to make changes.
Choose a study buddy: Research shows that the same areas of the brain that get stimulated during intense concentration also get activated when you have to work with others. You can learn from each other’s struggles and successes.
Rethink Your Thoughts
Part of learning to get rid of overthinking is to approach this issue with a completely different mindset. So often people have a negative thought that’s stuck in their head and once this thought arises, they fall into a downward spiral.
If you’re studying for a project, think about what you’re studying. Instead of focusing on all of the “negative” aspects of a situation, maybe you can see the positive.
For example, you can consider “I just need to work harder!” or “This project is important!” instead of focusing on all of the “sucks” or “would be better” factors.
Sometimes we try to do everything at once or we set unreasonable deadlines. Taking a break from studying to get some fresh air, get some exercise, or watch a funny TV show will definitely help.
Train your Brain
The brain isn’t just there to get you from point A to point B. Rather, it’s actually able to process information as it happens, which is why it’s so crucial to actually look at your study materials and question your assignments and tests instead of just turning on the distraction free playlist you have on your iPhone and blasting your brain out with sounds of Summer Jam or Bloc Party.
It’s natural to experience fear or anxiety, especially when you’re doing something you’ve never done before. But the key is to calm down those nerves and emotions and focus on what you’re actually trying to do.
Doing this will help to remove your analytical mind from your body, thus freeing up your conscious mind for serious study. It can be difficult, but taking a minute or two to count your blessings can help immensely.
Be thankful for where you are, what you have, and who you have around you. This will help distract your mind from worrying about everything that you have to do.
It’s also essential to acknowledge your achievements. Saying thank you will not only remind you of your achievements but also boost your self-esteem, making you feel better about yourself.
Work with the Moment
By now, you probably know that taking breaks is important in this context. Even if you’re spending eight hours a day reading or studying, taking a break every hour or so can be very helpful.
Some professors also suggest taking breaks at the beginning or end of a chapter. It’s important to feel refreshed and renewed by the time you leave your study space.
However, sometimes, when it’s crunch time, you just can’t tear yourself away from your homework for long. When that happens, remind yourself that the worst thing that will happen is that you get a low grade.
Taking this approach can help you stick with your studying schedule. The worst thing that happens is that you end up with a low mark – what are you going to do with that in the long term? Nothing.
Overthinking and anxiety
One of the most common symptoms of anxiety is overthinking. People who are anxious are often hyper-vigilant, and are constantly on the lookout for any signs of trouble. In doing so, they tend to overthink everything, often into over-reaction, rather than reaction.
This can cause a lot of anxiety and even lead to panic attacks. This reaction can have negative effects on your health in the long-term, so it’s essential to find a way to combat it.
Related Blog: How to Deal with Exam Stress?
The next steps for overthinking and anxiety
When you’re studying and overthinking, there are two ways you can choose to cope with it. We’re going to talk about the two most common strategies here.
Eliminate all possible distractions. One of the most common methods for dealing with overthinking while studying is to eliminate all distractions. This means shutting down all of the distractions in your environment – like your computer, phone, or even the TV – until you’ve finished studying. Research has also shown that shutting down distractions has a measurable impact on reducing anxiety. It can take some getting used to at first, but the thought of doing just that can be a good deterrent against some anxious feelings.
Focus on the Present Moment. You may find it helpful to focus on the present moment. That means you’re focusing on your lecture or homework assignment at hand, which can actually help you to manage your overthinking. When you do this, you take control of your brain and free yourself from unnecessary or negative thought patterns. As a result, you will actually be able to better understand what you’re learning and memorize it faster, too. And because you’re so much more focused, your mind will actually be able to process your study session better. In fact, you may find that when you’re more focused, you may actually be able to focus your brain on other aspects of the study session.
While exercise doesn’t generally work wonders for dealing with stress, it can give you a great boost of energy. In addition, all you have to do is clear your mind and you feel mentally recharged.
With the energy you’ve got, you can push through some of the more difficult tasks, and your stress will start to dissipate.
Meditation can help you de-stress and focus when studying. All you need to do is simply sit, breathe and focus on your breathing.
This simple exercise is proven to improve focus and lower anxiety, and has been found to also reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. Meditating can also boost memory, creativity, and memory.
Exercising and keeping physically active have numerous benefits, but they’re especially helpful when studying. Regular exercise can improve your focus, increase your energy, and help you sleep better at night.
It also lowers anxiety and helps you to cope with stress. Try taking a brisk walk during your lunch break. Doing so for 30 minutes is good, or you can go for a run if you are fit enough to run.
Our minds run a million miles per minute- let alone when we’re trying to study. For those of you who have been studying for a while, you’ll probably already know that these runs can be excruciating, so why not use this time to just reflect?
Well, that’s exactly what journaling can do for you. There are so many benefits to journaling, that it’s a no-brainer as to why you should give it a try. Journaling not only provides you with an outlet for your thoughts, but it also improves your focus.
A research study revealed that journaling can increase a person’s ability to pay attention. The key to effective journaling is writing what you already know. You want to be focused on the details of the lecture or assignment and how you’re going to learn from it.
Research shows that writing down your thoughts can help bring clarity. Writing down your thoughts is like taking a moment to step back and analyze your thoughts.
Journaling also helps people process emotions, which can help you come to new understandings about what you’re studying. This can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as decrease boredom.
Find a Hobby
There are many ways to find your focus. For instance, if you’re struggling with focus, you could try doing something completely different and completely unrelated to studying. In this case, there won’t be any competition or pressure.
You don’t have to focus on anything other than learning for a while. It could be a fun activity, such as painting or taking up an instrument. It could be something as simple as taking a walk or cooking a nice meal.
Whatever it is, if you’re having trouble focusing on your studies, doing something different might help. The best part is that your new hobby doesn’t even have to be for school.
You don’t need to limit yourself to study activities! Any hobby you want, really. Anything that helps you unplug will do.
Slow your thoughts down
One of the biggest struggles people have when studying is keeping their thoughts focused on the subject at hand, which can often lead to worry or overthinking. The reason it happens is that when your mind is thinking about the upcoming exam, it often goes off on wild tangents or gets easily distracted.
The solution to this is to slow your thoughts down. By focusing on the concepts you want to learn, and gradually tuning your mind to the details of each concept, you can begin to focus and stop worrying.
Although this may not work for some people, if you can distract yourself by scribbling down everything you’re studying, it will help you to be more focused and stop overthinking.
Focus on one thing at a time
There are so many things going on at once when studying. At first, your mind may think that studying is a straightforward task, but really, there are so many different issues to consider that it can get complicated very quickly.
Instead of getting lost in all the different details, think about one thing at a time. Just take your notes and study that for a while. Then, take a break to refresh yourself and come back to it later. It may be difficult at first, but it will get better over time.
Think of homework as a workout. If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed when studying, you’re probably wondering how you can make the most of your studying sessions. But that’s the thing- studying should be a reward, not a chore.
Do not judge yourself or others
This one is important. One reason you might feel like you’re getting stuck is because of how you think others are judging you or judging you for studying in that way.
First of all, your actual colleagues will probably not be judging you. That would be strange!
Your friends and family are mostly not feeling as though they want to give you an eating disorder!
They aren’t analyzing every word you say, dissecting your choices in decor, or quizzing you on what you’ve just read. They have, however, just given you a look or a comment that has totally made you feel like you’re failing at life or in front of them!
So, ignore those voices and look to do the opposite of what they say. Do things that you genuinely love doing!
Take action ASAP
The biggest reason why you keep procrastinating is because you don’t take the first steps. This is the worst part about overthinking: you can only fix the problem you’re in, not the problem you’ve created.
Stop overthinking, then take action. How?
Ask yourself one question: would I really be any happier if I did this or not?
If the answer is no, and it should be, take immediate action.
If it’s yes, then make a plan. Tell yourself you’ll “wake up earlier” so you can be more productive.
When you do make that commitment, you’ll no longer have the anxiety of “I’ll never do it” and your focus will shift to actually accomplishing the task. If you’re stuck, don’t overthink it. I know it’s easy to overthink things when you don’t know how to solve the issue.
Break your problem down
To be able to stop overthinking while studying, you first have to get an idea of what’s going on. Break your study session into different parts so you can make sure you are staying on track and not losing focus on what you were studying in the first place.
Give yourself credit
This is a really easy one to implement but sometimes very difficult to remember to do. Instead of beating yourself up about how much you don’t understand, accept that your brain is still learning, you just need to help it along.
If you’re working on the tough papers or essays, give yourself a little boost by praising yourself for actually reading the text. Remember, it can be really easy to feel like you don’t know anything at the moment. Take advantage of that – it only lasts as long as you let it.
Take some time to reflect
You might be able to beat the overwhelming feeling of being overwhelmed by just taking some time to think. Pause for a minute and take a break.
Now that you’re taking a moment to gather your thoughts, it might be easier to come up with new ideas to study. Take a break from schoolwork.
How many times have you set out to study and you didn’t get very far because your mind was elsewhere?
Go to the store, get on the internet, play with your dog, or take a walk around your neighborhood. Make sure you get some fresh air and your mind off of schoolwork and the problem at hand.
Ask yourself if you are studying the material to improve your grade or to satisfy your curiosity. You might not have a test for a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean you should be skipping your class.
As tempting as it is to consider everything at once, you need to know when it’s time to break away from that idea or concept.
This is especially true for college students. You spend a lot of time studying, so you need to be aware of when you’re getting too overwhelmed and need to take a break from your study session.
You’re only going to be doing yourself harm by continuing to dive headfirst into the concept.
When you’re overthinking it’s easy to get anxious and overwhelmed.
Once you’re no longer focused on the one thing you’re trying to focus on, you’ll be even more likely to forget. That’s why practicing mindfulness is so important.
Try taking some time to think about your worries, concerns, and future goals. Sometimes it may not be possible to do this when studying, but you can at least try. Mindfulness is also very helpful in blocking out the noise.
When you’re trying to study, it’s easy to be distracted by social media, text messages, and even the people around you. You can block out distractions using the new Google Chrome extension called StayFocusd. It’s free to use and it works across desktop and mobile devices.
Accept Yourself for Who You Are
Your desire to be perfect can really set you up to fall into a mental spiral. This is when you can start to second guess everything you’re doing and start creating useless mental walls in your mind.
It can also be the root of the most epic procrastination because you convince yourself you can’t complete it, then you spend so much time second guessing, that it completely messes up your studying session.
Try not to do this. You are who you are, and trying to be something else just keeps you stuck in a comfort zone. Accept yourself for what you are and focus on learning about what you’re trying to learn.
Even if it seems to come easy to you, that’s probably because you really do know it. Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, use your focus to your advantage.
Change Your Viewpoint from Negative to Positive
There’s a reason people always believe that you should keep things in perspective. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule.
But, what if you viewed studying as an opportunity to further your goals instead of as a chore?
How might your study session change if you looked at it as a fun, enjoyable opportunity instead of a boring task that you had to endure until the next time you had a break?
This viewpoint will put you in a much better mindset. And if you try this, you may just be surprised at how much easier it is to get the work done.
Related Blog: How To Avoid Laziness While Studying
Everyone is at different levels when it comes to studying. For some, an hour and a half can be plenty of time to learn something new. For others, a day can be spent going over the same page that has been covered a million times. This is all up to you.
It’s just important that you remember that your study sessions should not take as long as you would think they should. Even if it takes only a few minutes here and there, you’ll be glad you did.
How do you deal with your overthinking? Do you have any good coping techniques? Let us know in the comments.